Thorne Crest to implement wellness program

Published 4:50 pm Saturday, January 30, 2010

Independence is important to everyone, but especially to senior citizens as it is threatened by muscle and bone loss.

To combat those issues, Thorne Crest Retirement Center is implementing a wellness program created by AgeDynamics Founder John Rude and run by Thorne Crest wellness director Weston Hulst.

AgeDynamics is a wellness consulting firm out of Eugene, Ore. that focuses on older adult’s health.

Email newsletter signup

Its program, which will officially kick off in early March and run for 12 weeks, will track the muscle strength, bone density and balance improvement of over 40 residents.

“We’re letting them know that there aren’t as many limitations as they think there are,” Hulst said.

Thorne Crest director of marketing and sales, Kay Goodmanson, introduced the program as exciting and something that looks at the whole person in the aging population

Rude, a gerontologist, continued that message.

“The whole strategy around doing this program is to eliminate chronic disease,” he said, to a small audience of residents. “Don’t wait until there is a major issue that you have to treat with heavy medicine that has side affects.”

The program will begin with assessments on Feb. 1-2, collecting data to aid in the personalization of a fitness and wellness program.

“We’ll look to see what the strength and weaknesses are of the population,” Rude said. “It forces us to be objective.”

To inspire residents to sign up for the assessment, Rude spoke at Thorne Crest Jan. 18-19, challenging the audience’s perception of aging.

“There are two views of aging,” Rude said. “One is the over the hill model used in greeting cards; it says the first half of life is about gains or growth and the second half of life is about loss or decline.”

Rude refuted that view saying that if we think life will treat us that way there is a good chance it will.

“It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy,” he said. “In life we experience both loses and gains and loses don’t just happen when we’re older. How we choose to respond to loss is what matters.”

Rude also talked about exercising our minds and asked the audience if they’ve ever tried to learn how to use a computer.

“Eww,” one woman cried, among a flurry of raised hands.

“When we stress our minds in positive ways we get measurable outcomes,” Rude said. “Put yourself in a situation that is a bit uncomfortable, unusual or do something you’ve never done before.”

He encouraged the audience to learn how to play bridge, write or work on a jigsaw puzzle.

“It’s so important as we get older to keep our minds active,” he added. “When we retire, we’re often encouraged to slow down, relax and take it leisurely; sometimes that gets us in trouble.”

Through Rude’s program, physical and mental improvement are building blocks to what’s most valuable: Independence.

“The biggest fear of the older population is losing independence,” he said. “We want quality of life over quantity. If we get quantity it’s a byproduct of quality.”

Rude’s AgeDynamics firm’s presence in Albert Lea has no association with Blue Zones but is just an added boost to a community already focused on longevity.

“I am aware of what’s going on in Albert Lea with Blue Zones,” he said. “I think there are some things we can do in conjunction with that because they also deal with human aging.”

After the initial 12 week program, Rude will conduct a post-assessment before starting another program. He hopes Thorne Crest’s residents will optimize their health and well-being in mind, body and spirit.